You may think you’re too old to pursue higher education, but sometimes this is the only way to achieve your career goals.
For many adults, going back to college can feel like a far-fetched fantasy. Once you have a family and a job, going back to school seems beyond your reach.
It’s true that it’s much easier to study when you have no responsibilities other than taking care of yourself, but life doesn’t always work like that. Perhaps when you were younger you didn’t know what you were passionate about, or you took some courses in a community college but did not complete a degree. Regardless of how you arrived at this point in your career, there are three major reasons to consider advancing your education.
You’re interested in a different field
If the work you do is no longer fulfilling and you frequently feel disengaged – you dread Mondays and can’t wait to get out at 5:00 PM – you may want to consider a different field.
One quick way to discover your area of interest is to browse through the Occupational Outlook Handbook, a directory published by the federal government that lists every single occupation, its projected growth, how much it pays, and the education required. Spend a few hours browsing the directory and discover which field attracts you the most. Then start planning your next step: Getting a certification, a degree, or the experience you need to apply for a job. Keep in mind that entering any new field will require some intense networking.
You’d like to make more money
If you’ve reached a compensation cap, or if you often hear: “I can’t promote you to manager because you don’t have a bachelor’s degree,” or any variation of this argument, it may be time to go back to school.
I recently met a refugee from the Ugandan genocide, a thirty-two-year-old woman who had arrived in the U.S. many years before, having just graduated from high school. She started working right away and never had a chance to go to college. “I cry every night,” she told me, “because I don’t have a college degree and nobody wants to hire me as a manager even though I have the experience.” It was so sad. Almost her entire family had been massacred. She had suffered so much that it made no sense for her to continue suffering over something that had a simple solution.
What I told her then might help you when that little voice in your head tries to talk you out of going back to school: “Can you imagine spending the next 40 years crying every day for something you could fix in two to four years? Use this weekend to review potential colleges and enroll somewhere on Monday.” She did! I cried when she called me a few days later to tell me she had enrolled in an online college.
As a matter of fact, online universities (some of which have physical campuses as well) are a great option for adults pursuing higher education. Not only have they developed programs to fit market demands, but they also offer options suited to the realities of the adult learner. Some of these schools even offer free trials and consultations to help you find the program that best fits your needs.
You want to feel empowered
Nothing will give you a self-esteem boost like fulfilling your highest educational dreams. It’s an achievement that you can take anywhere, regardless of what life throws at you. It will give you a sense of power like you’ve never felt before. And it will help you shake off any old insecurity.
We live in an ever-increasingly competitive world. With the wide range of options available for adults who want to go back to school, there are no excuses. Choose the alternative that best fits your needs and you’ll reach the next career level in no time.
I’m compensated by University of Phoenix for this blog. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.